Minnesotans are waking up to another day of cold weather, though that polar vortex we've been hearing so much about -- and stuck in the middle of -- is expected to ease a bit today. In the Twin Cities, temperatures are forecast to top out at minus 1 degree, before climbing back into the single digits above zero on Wednesday.
Still, even if you're not into pond hockey, hotdish, or the State Fair, you could have staked a claim on a piece of Minnesota culture if you stepped outside on a morning with double-digit, sub-zero air temperatures and wind chill readings.
Not that many did.
Even in the winter, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes trails draw plenty of cyclists and joggers. But except for a few cars plying the icy road, Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis was as quiet as a lake deep in the north woods on Monday.
Patrick O'Brien, 48, of south Minneapolis, pulled a Spiderman outfit over his winter running gear as he made his way around the lake. And the solitude was just fine with runner Danielle Ingram.
"If it's going to be this cold, I got to get something out of it. I don't think it makes a lot of sense," she said. "I don't recommend it. Partially it's bragging rights."
Just down the trail, riding a mountain bike with knobby tires, Parker Roenfanz said, "I'm just heading into the office." The cold weather didn't keep him from his daily 8-mile, two-wheel commute from Lake Nokomis to St. Louis Park.
"You can't ride every day of the year if you don't ride today. That's my go-to attitude. A few buddies of mine went out for a ride last night and grabbed a few beers and decided last night that it wasn't too bad," he said.
If a quiet bike ride around a frozen lake isn't your thing, there's always indoor dodgeball on a trampoline. With schools and parks closed, dozens of kids and their parents descended on Sky Zone in Plymouth. Children and some adults bounced around on wall-to-wall trampolines.
Among them, 9-year-old Truman Fillbrandt and his sister Claire, 7.
"I did the foam pit a few times, but mostly I stayed on the main court," Truman said.
"I mostly jumped. I jumped once in the foam pit," his sister added.
Their father, Steve Fillbrandt, hit the trampolines too, and says it was a good way to beat cabin fever: "I figured we could all use a little exercise. Get out and get our wiggles out."
While some used the cold weather as an excuse to do something fun and different, for others, sub-zero temperatures made a difficult situation even worse.
Gerry Lauer, director of the Dorothy Day Center, a homeless shelter in St. Paul run by Catholic Charities, says because the cold snap happened at the beginning of the month -- when many people receive public assistance and retirement checks -- the shelter wasn't as busy as it might have been. Still, Lauer says all the time indoors is taking its toll on people.
"Part of what helps you through the day sometimes is that movement, the fresh air. Getting outside, doing what you need to do,"he said of the people who use the shelter. "With this cold weather, it's a very tough situation. And by the end of a three- or four-day stint, it really makes it tough for folks to keep it together."
Frostbite and hypothermia have been troublesome too. At Regions Hospital in St. Paul, spokeswoman Kristen Kaufmann says the emergency room and burn center have seen eight cases of hypothermia and 14 frostbite cases. Kaufmann says all eight of the intensive care beds in Regions' burn center are occupied by patients suffering frostbite injuries.
"While the number of frostbite patients may seem pretty low given the extreme cold, a lot of the cases we have been seeing are severe enough to require inpatient treatment. In fact one of our physicians said we've received a record breaking number of extreme frostbite cases coming in to Regions. It's the most he's ever seen," Kaufman said.
The Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center in downtown Minneapolis is also packed with people seeking refuge from the extreme cold.
Spokeswoman Annette Bauer calls it "crazy busy" with over 600 people compared with a capacity around 450. When the shelter runs out of beds it sets up cots. When it runs out of cots, people sleep in chairs.
Bauer says Salvation Army shelters in Mankato and St. Cloud are also full.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Health learned a hard lesson about the expansive properties of frozen water. The agency says it's suspending testing in its infectious disease and environmental labs after a building heating system quit, and some pipes froze and leaked. The damage is estimated at $1 million.
"We ended up with water coming from down to the first floor, some equipment was damaged, as you can imagine some office space, cubicles, carpeting was also damaged," said MDH spokesman Doug Schultz.
Newborn screening that's normally conducted at the facility will be sent to outside contractors for testing.
Agency officials plan to meet today to decide when the lab will reopen and whether they'll need to call on neighboring states to help with testing
While it's still going to be cold Tuesday, temperatures are slowly creeping back up. And in a sign that things are getting back to normal, the Minneapolis park board says all indoor and outoor programs will resume at noon today.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.